Cooking from the garden – roasted perennial (and other) root veggies

A large part of the value and purpose of my experiments with perennial vegetables is to make the most of my garden by producing food that is easy to grow, lasts year after year – and very importantly – tastes good!  I have used perennials alongside other veggies in salads and cooked meals but generally have not had sufficient amount and variety at any one time to form the basis of a substantial dish.  However for some weeks I have been aiming to concoct a roasted root vegetable dish using as many roots from the garden as possible.

Yesterday I set about garnering as much produce as I could for this purpose.  I went for the Jerusalem artichokes first and dug one plant that grew to a great height last summer – albeit at something of an angle due to its shady position.  This yielded 390 grams after removing part of two tubers that had sadly rotted.  This part of the garden is always very damp – so damp I think that there may be water rising there, so I know now not to leave Jerusalem artichokes in there too long if I put them there again.

Amongst the Jerusalem artichoke tubers were a few Chinese artichokes that had wandered over – they are part of the mint family and spread underground like mint does.  I dug up a skirret plant and took off a number of roots to eat and also another five to replant.  I put the original plant back where it had come from, noting that small green shoots are starting to form and planted the five roots elsewhere, hoping to make five more plants, but not knowing if this will work.

I have a few beetroot plants which I am inordinately proud of as most annual veggies just get slaughtered by the slugs.  I pulled two of these and also gathered some apples from the ground.  Shamefully they have been lying there since last autumn, I assumed they would have been nibbled or started to rot, but surprisingly I found quite a few that were whole and wholesome.  To add some greens to the meal I gathered some shoots from Asturian kale, 1000 headed kale and Sutherland kale.  Sorry about the glove in the picture below, I have tried to crop it but can’t get that to work.

The recipe is based on one in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s veg cook book, but starring the perennial roots from the garden:

  • Approximately 12 oca tubers from those previously harvested (sorry didn’t weigh these)
  • 390 g Jerusalem artichokes
  • 8 g (!) Chinese artichokes
  • 246 g beetroot
  • Approx 100 g skirret root (weighed but I forgot to write it down, may well have been more)
  • 1 mashua tuber (supplied by another grower)
  • 2 apples, skin on and sliced
  • Plus purchased ingredients:
  • 4 shallots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 slice butternut squash

The veggies were all cleaned (and peeled if necessary) and chopped / sliced into appropriate sized pieces.  Then they were put onto two trays with a dash of oil and a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  After 20 minutes at 180 degrees C the apple and a good handful of rosemary leaves were added.  Then back in the oven for another 20 minutes or so until cooked.  Roasting works really well to bring out the flavours of the veggies and there is no need for any additional flavourings.  We cook two portions of roast veg in order to use half another day mixed with cooked brown or green lentils and a salad dressing to make a really amazingly tasty salad dish.

I guess the list of ingredients above demonstrates that using what is to hand to make supper gives a less finely tuned recipe than one from a cook book but the satisfaction is immense both for the tummy and for the soul.

About Anni Kelsey

Author of Edible Perennial Gardening and avid researcher into edible perennials and associated useful plants.
This entry was posted in Forest Gardening, perennial greens, Perennial Vegetables, Permaculture, Polycultures, roots and tubers, Telford Garden and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Cooking from the garden – roasted perennial (and other) root veggies

  1. Norris says:

    Based on my non systematic observations, detached skirret roots do not grow into new plants–they only regrow if they have the crown shoots still attached. I haven’t actually tested this with careful plots where I replant detached roots…but I’ve never noticed resprouting of plants in areas I dug them out, even though I know I’ve missed roots that got cut or broken off as I dug out the plants. On many occasions I’ve found a severed root weeks or months later with no signs of sprouting–but still good for eating!

    It’s well worth your carefully testing this…let us know if you have success propagating them from detached roots!

    Norris

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  2. gaynor says:

    That sounds yummy I think I might give that a go tomorrow I haven’t had roasted veg for ages.
    I watches a clip of a programme on permiculture today and it sounds like a good idea but I’m not quite sure how it actually works, what I could gather is u let the weeds do their own thing I’m not a tidy gardener but I don’t think I could let the weeds take over, mind you 2 weeks of being away then takes me at least 2 months to get back on top. Unfortunately we have a massive problem with mares tail on our allotment site and it drives me mad more than the brambles, nettles and bindweed.
    Is permiculture leaving the weeds to do their own thing or have I got the wrong idea.

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    • annisveggies says:

      Hi Gaynor
      Permaculture in the broad sense is about techniques and principles for designing sustainable human settlements and growing food is one part of this. Growing food in according to the principles of permaculture is about using techniques including building communities of plants that can work together in the same way as a naturally ocurring ecosystem.
      I grow my perennial veggies in polycultures with the aim of integrating plants that help to build fertility, attract insects, fix nitrogen alongside the veggies. The way I do it does include leaving some “weeds” in place, but different people will choose different plants to fulfill these functions. For instance I leave dandelions in the garden – because they are really attractive flowers (when looked at without prejudice), the tap roots bring up nutrients from the soil and these are concentrated in the leaves. I take the leaves off to stop the plants getting to big and feed them back to the soil (directly). I let the flowers go to seedheads and these attract bullfinches to the garden which are very unusual round here. I don’t have a problem with lots of young seedling dandelion plants as I don’t dig the soil and it seems to be disturbances like digging that triggers the growth of weeds. There are lots of other plants that could fulfill these functions but as the dandelions are here anyway and like the conditions it is less work to leave them. However growing veggies on an allotment is another matter and clearly you have to keep on top of nuisances like mares tail etc.
      If you wanted to find out more about permaculture then Permaculture Magazine (http://www.permaculture.co.uk/) is very interesting and permaculture gardening is very well covered in the lovely book “Gaia’s Garden – A guide to homescale permaculture! by Toby Hemenway.
      Best wishes
      Anni

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  3. G’Day! Annisveggies,
    Cool Post, There is not a single thing like a perennial yard to include elegance to a again yard. Vivid patches of colorful flowers draw in butterflies and hummingbirds, forming a cheerful ambiance in even the smallest garden.
    Cheers

    Like

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